Arshile Gorky Catalogue Raisonné
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Catalogue Entry

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Photo: Genevieve Hanson
P274
(Scent of Apricots)
1944
Oil on canvas
31 x 44 in. (78.7 x 111.8 cm)
Front, center right: A Gorky / 44
Reverse not seen
Private collection
Exhibitions
Art Institute of Chicago, 27th Annual Exhibition by the Society for Contemporary Art, April 11–May 21, 1967, as "Scent of Apricots in the Field."
David and Alfred Smart Gallery, University of Chicago, Abstract Expressionism: A Tribute to Harold Rosenberg: Paintings and Drawings from Chicago Collections, October 11–November 25, 1979, no. 11, ill. in b/w, pl. 3, p. 25, as "Scent of Apricots in the Fields."
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, Arshile Gorky 1904–1948: A Retrospective, April 24–July 19, 1981, no. 243, ill. in color, p. 248, as "Scent of Apricots," dated 1947. Traveled to: Dallas Museum of Fine Arts, September 11–November 8, 1981; Los Angeles County Museum of Art, December 3, 1981–February 28, 1982.
Art Institute of Chicago, The Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Randall Shapiro Collection, February 23–April 14, 1985, no. 64, fig. 51, ill. in color, p. 62; p. 110, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Philadelphia Museum of Art, Arshile Gorky: A Retrospective, October 15, 2009–January 10, 2010, no. 122, ill. in color, p. 283, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields." Traveled to: Tate Modern, London, February 10–May 3, 2010. (Gale 2010).; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, June 6–September 20, 2010.
Hauser & Wirth, New York, Ardent Nature: Arshile Gorky Landscapes, 1943–47, November 2–December 23, 2017 (Exhibition catalogue: Spender and Devaney 2017).
Literature
Levy, Julien. Arshile Gorky. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966. Monograph, pl. 201, ill. in b/w, p. 225, as "Scent of Apricots," dated 1947.
Rathbone, Eliza E. "Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song." In American Art at Mid-Century: The Subjects of the Artist. Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, 1978. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 48, ill. in b/w, p. 86, as "Scent of Apricots."
Goldman, Judith. "Collecting in Chicago: 'Love Affairs with Art.'" ARTnews (New York) 78 (February 1979), discussed p. 48, as "Scent of Apricots in the Fields," [b/w photo, p. 47 of Joseph Shapiro standing in front of P274].
Chevrier, Jean-François. "Arshyle Gorky a New-York: L'Absence, les odeurs et les sons." Le Monde (Paris), July 11, 1981, discussed p. 17, as "L'Odeur des abricots."
Freedman, Adele. "An Artist's Descent into Death: Gorky's Early Years Were Chaotic, His Later Ones Were Even Worse." The Globe and Mail (Toronto), June 9, 1981, discussed p. 15, as "Scent of Apricots."
Sue, David, and Derald Wing Sue, and Stanley Sue. Understanding Abnormal Behavior. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981, ill. in b/w, pp. 236–37, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Jordan, Jim M. "The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: New Discoveries, New Sources, and Chronology." In The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue, by Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater. New York and London: New York University Press, 1982, discussed p. 85, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Jordan, Jim M. "Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings." In The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue, by Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater. New York and London: New York University Press, 1982, no. 274, ill. in b/w, pp. 424–25, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Sims, Lowery Stokes. "Wifredo Lam and Roberto Matta: Surrealism in the New World." In In the Mind's Eye: Dada and Surrealism, Terry Ann R. Neff, ed. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Exhibition catalogue, pl. 30, ill. in color, p. 104, as "Scent of Apricots in the Fields."
Lader, Melvin P. Arshile Gorky. New York: Abbeville Press, 1985. Monograph, fig. 82, ill. in color, p. 84, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Spender, Matthew. "Origines et développement de l'oeuvre dessiné de Arshile Gorky / Quellen und Entwicklung von Arshile Gorkys zeichnerischem Werk." In Arshile Gorky: Œuvres sur Papier, 1929–1947 / Arbeiten auf Papier, 1929–1947, Erika Billeter, ed. Lausanne: Musée cantonal des Beaux-Arts, 1990. Exhibition catalogue, fig. 18, ill. in b/w, p. 35, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Ash, John. "Arshile Gorky: How My Mother's Embroidered Apron Unfolds in My Life, 1944." Artforum (New York) 34 (September 1995), discussed p. 79, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Balakian, Peter. "Arshile Gorky and the Armenian Genocide." Art in America (New York) 84 (February 1996), discussed p. 109, as "The Scent of Apricots."
Tully, Judd. "Auction Reviews: Contemporary Art." Art & Auction (New York) 18, no. 6 (January 1996), discussed p. 89, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Thomas, Kelly Devine. "The Most Wanted Works of Art." Artnews (New York) (November 1, 2003), discussed, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Theriault, Kim S. Rethinking Arshile Gorky. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2009. Monograph, pl. 22, ill. in color; ill. in color (detail), cover; ill. in b/w (detail), p. 162, as "Scent of Apricots on the Fields."
Notes

Commentary

Although the title, as Scent of Apricots on the Fields, is identified as a lifetime title in Jim M. Jordan's catalogue raisonné, there is no known extant documentation confirming its origin with the artist.1 We have, therefore, designated it as posthumous and reverted to the historical appellation, Scent of Apricots, in accordance with Gorky's last lifetime dealer, Julien Levy's (1906–1981), 1966 monograph on the artist, in which the painting was first published.If original to the artist, the title was likely decided upon by Gorky and André Breton (1896–1966) through a collaborative process of free association that the two artists jointly devised in the months preceding Gorky's debut solo show at the Julien Levy Gallery in March 1945 (see commentary for P287).3

Elements of the title are, however, embedded in two written statements that Gorky completed for the Museum of Modern Art. In a 1942 questionnaire, prefacing a memory of his childhood home, Gorky remarks, "I like the wheatfields the plough the apricots the shape of apricots those flirts of the sun."4 In a subsequent questionnaire, completed c. 1945, in answer to a question concerning what is relevant to an understanding of his art, he responds, "Perhaps the fact that I was taken away from my little village when I was five years old yet all my vital memories are of these first years. . . . Since then these memories have become iconography, the shapes even the colors: millstone, red earth, yellow wheatfield, apricots, etc."5

1. Jim M. Jordan, "Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings," in Jim M. Jordan and Robert Goldwater, The Paintings of Arshile Gorky: A Critical Catalogue (New York and London: New York University Press, 1982), 424–425.

2. Julien Levy, Arshile Gorky (New YorkHarry N. Abrams, Inc., 1966), 225.

3. Julien Levy Gallery, New York, Arshile Gorky, March 6–31, 1945. 

4. "Arshile Gorky: Text for the Museum of Modern Art Describing the Garden in Sochi Series," June 26, 1942, Artist File: Arshile Gorky, The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York. Reprinted in Matthew Spender, ed., Arshile Gorky: The Plow and the Song: A Life in Letters and Documents (Zurich: Hauser & Wirth Publishers, 2018), 255; a copy of the original typescript is in the AGF Archives.

5. "Arshile Gorky: Replies to a Museum of Modern Art Questionnaire," c. 1945, The Museum of Modern Art Library, New York. Reprinted in Spender, ed., The Plow and the Song, 355.

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